Fishing

A group of anglers fish from a white boat on murky green water with a mangrove tree-lined shore behind them.
Florida Bay Fishing

NPS Photo M. Collier

Fishing In Everglades National Park

One third of Everglades National Park is covered by saltwater, the rest is a freshwater wetland. Both offer ample opportunity for recreational fishing.

 

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Fishing in a nutshell

Freshwater Fishing

  • License: A Florida freshwater fishing license is required to fish in freshwater or to possess fresh water species.
  • Bait: Live or dead fish (including minnows and shiners) or amphibians, and non-preserved fish eggs or roe, are prohibited. Digging for bait inside the park is not permitted.
  • Closed to Fishing: No fishing is allowed at the Ernest F. Coe (Main) Visitor Center lakes, Royal Palm Visitor Center area and trails, Chekika Lake, along the first 3 miles of the Main Park Road, including Taylor Slough, or along the Shark Valley Tram Road.

Saltwater Fishing

  • License: A Florida saltwater fishing license is required to fish in saltwater or to possess saltwater species.
  • Bait: Bait, except for mullet and shrimp, is not included in bag limits. Saltwater bait: shrimp, minnows, pilchards, pinfish, mullet, mojarras (shad), or ballyhoo. Bait may be taken with hook and line, dip net (not wider than 3 feet / 0.9 m), and cast net.
  • Closed to Fishing: No fishing is allowed in Eco, Mrazek or Coot Bay Ponds at any time. No fishing is allowed at the Flamingo Marina during daylight hours.
  • Manatee Etiquette: Areas frequented by manatees have been posted. Keep an eye out for manatees. Slow to an idle if observed, but do not approach or molest.
  • Lobster and Queen Conch: The taking and possession of lobster and queen conch is prohibited.
  • Recreational Crabbing: Stone crabs, during open state season, and blue crabs may be taken by recreational fishermen using attended gear (for example: star trap, baited line, landing net, etc.). Crabbers are limited to five (5) traps. Unattended gear, including traps, is prohibited.
  • Shrimp: Shrimp may be taken by dip net (not wider than 3 feet / 0.9 m) or cast net, for personal use only, not for sale.

Additional Regulations

  • Licensed anglers are limited to possession of 20 fish/person at any time, but may possess no more than 10 fish of any one species.
  • Please be aware that the bag limit for many species is less than 10 fish.
  • There is no possession limit for non-native species.
  • All anglers are reminded to pick up a current copy of the Everglades Fishing Regulations available at all visitor centers and entrance stations.

Mercury Warning

Warning! High levels of mercury have been found in Everglades bass and in some fish species in northern Florida Bay. Do not eat bass caught north of the Main Park Road. Do not eat bass caught south of the Main Park Road more than once a week. Children and pregnant women should not eat any bass. The following salt water species caught in northern Florida Bay should not be consumed more than once per week by adults or once per month by women of child-bearing age and children: spotted seatrout, gafftopsail, catfish, bluefish, crevalle jack, or ladyfish.

 

Helpful Links

Park waters provide thousands of acres of shallow water flats, channels, and mangrove keys in which to fish. Before leaving shore, think safety! Be aware of local boating information.

Remember that collecting plants and animals in Everglades National Park is prohibited. This includes such things as orchids, airplants, seahorses, starfish, conch, tropical fish, coral, sponges, sea shells, and driftwood (except for fuel).

 

Licenses

A valid Florida fishing license is required to fish in the park although exceptions may apply, and fees vary. Children under 16 years of age do not require a license. Visitors fishing within Everglades National Park must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

 

Fishing Regulations

Unless otherwise provided for, fishing regulations apply to all finfish found in both fresh and saltwater, and mollusks and crustaceans found in saltwater (shellfish).   Other taxa, including amphibians, and freshwater mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and are addressed by NPS regulations governing “wildlife” (36CFR2.2). 

These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.

Fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Florida (36CFR2.3(a)) except as provided below. Where there is a conflict between a state regulation and a federal (NPS) regulation, the state regulation is superseded by the federal regulation. 

For state fishing regulations please visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.

For more information on how NPS fishing regulations work, go to the regulations page on the NPS Fish and Fishing website (https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fishing/how-regulations-work.htm).

The following are prohibited, as per National Park Service regulations:

  • Fishing in fresh waters in any manner other than by hook and line, with the rod or line being closely attended. 

  • Possessing or using as bait for fishing in freshwaters, live or dead minnows or other bait fish, amphibians, non-preserved fish eggs or fish roe, except in designated waters.

  • Chumming or placing preserved or fresh fish eggs, fish roe, food, fish parts, chemicals, or other foreign substances in fresh waters for the purpose of feeding or attracting fish in order that they may be taken.

  • Commercial fishing, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law.

  • Fishing by the use of drugs, poisons, explosives, or electricity.

  • Digging for bait, except in privately owned lands.

  • Failing to return carefully and immediately to the water from which it was taken a fish that does not meet size or species restrictions or that the person chooses not to keep. Fish so released shall not be included in the catch or possession limit: Provided, that at the time of catching the person did not possess the legal limit of fish.

  • Fishing from motor road bridges, from or within 200 feet of a public raft or float designated for water sports, or within the limits of locations designated as swimming beaches, surfing areas, or public boat docks, except in designated areas.

  • Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets.

  • The use or possession of fish, wildlife or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights.

Except as otherwise designated, fishing with a net, spear, or weapon in the salt waters of park areas shall be in accordance with State law.

The following additional regulations apply only within Everglades National Park:

  • Note that Florida saltwater recreational fishing seasons in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico differ. Please ensure you are fishing in season for your location.

  • In areas not closed to fishing, it is permitted to fish from public docks, piers and chickees.

  • No fishing is allowed at the Ernest F. Coe (Main) Visitor Center lakes, Royal Palm Visitor Center area and trails, Chekika Lake, along the first 3 miles of the Main Park Road, including Taylor Slough, or along the Shark Valley Tram Road.

  • Fishing in the following waters is prohibited:

  • Flamingo Marina and boat ramps, sunrise to sunset.

  • Gulf Coast (Everglades City) Marina and boat ramp, sunrise to sunset.

  • Mrazek Pond

  • Eco Pond.

  • Coot Bay Pond.

  • The cement seawall running parallel with the breezeway from the Flamingo Visitor Center to the Western tip of the seawall.

  • The shoreline along the Flamingo Campground, from the amphitheater to the westernmost portion of "C" Loop, from sunset to sunrise.

  • Paurotis Pond is closed to fishing when the pond is closed to entry as posted.

  • Catch and Release Area

  • Joe Bay and its Eastern most portion, commonly known as Snag Bay, and the associated creeks between the two, is open to “catch and release” fishing for Finfish only. No marine life may be possessed inside the area, except for limited quantities of the following species to be used specifically as bait: Shrimp, pilchards, pinfish, mojarras, ballyhoo, (Mullet less than eight (8) inches total length), and killifishes, silversides, and livebearers (also known as minnows) from the families Cyprinodontidae, Atherinidae, Poeciliidae, respectively.

  • Except for taking finfish, shrimp, bait, crabs, and oysters, as provided in this section or as modified under 36 CFR 1.5, the taking, possession, or disturbance of any fresh or saltwater aquatic life is prohibited.

  • Only the following fish or parts thereof may be legally taken and/or possessed within Everglades National Park:

  • Blue Crabs

  • Stone crab claws

  • Marine finfish, other than ornamental tropical fish, that may be legally taken and possessed in the State of Florida

  • Shrimp

  • Freshwater fish, other than ornamental tropical fish

  • Saltwater bait fish (Shrimp, mullet, and bait fish (minnows, pilchards, pinfish, mojarras, ballyhoo or bait mullet (less than eight (8) inches in total length))

  • Ornamental Tropical Fish: For purposes of this compendium, ornamental tropical fish shall be defined as fishes of species, and where applicable, sizes listed in Appendix B of the Superintendent's Compendium (email us for a copy).

  • Except as provided in this section, only a closely attended hook and line may be used for fishing activities within the park.

  • Crabbing for stone or blue crabs may be conducted using attended gear only and no more than five (5) traps per person. Persons using traps must remain within one hundred (100) feet of those traps. Unattended gear or use of more than five (5) traps per person is prohibited.

  • Shrimp, mullet, and bait fish (minnows, pilchards, pinfish, mojarras, ballyhoo or bait mullet (less than eight (8) inches in total length) may be taken with hook and line, dipnet (not exceeding 3 feet at its widest point) or cast net, for use as bait or personal consumption.

  • A dipnet or cast net may not be dragged, trawled, or held suspended in the water.

  • Possession or use of a cast net which exceeds 20 feet in diameter (total size of the net not to exceed 10 feet from the lead line to the horn) is prohibited.

  • Bag Limits: The current Florida State laws governing bag and possession limits shall apply, and the following restrictions noted:

  • The bag limit per person shall be ten for any finfish species having no limit or a vessel or per person limit greater than ten. If a State vessel limit applies, the limit shall be ten per person or the vessel limit, whichever is less.

  • The bag limit identified above does not apply to the following fish taken by hook and line: Tilapia (Oreochromis aureus, Oreochromis mossambicus, Tilapia marie), Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus), Lionfish (Pterois volitans), and Cichlids (Cichlasoma sp). There is no possession or bag limit on non-native species.

  • The maximum daily possession limit, of all finfish species in aggregate, shall be 20 fish per person; however, neither the state nor the park limit for a species may be exceeded within the aggregate.

  • The daily limit for shrimp (heads on) shall be 5 gallons per person or vessel, whichever is less.

  • State law applies with respect to bait finfish and blue crab.

  • Tagging, marking, fin clipping, mutilation or other disturbance to a caught fish, prior to release is prohibited without written authorization from the Superintendent.

  • Fish may not be fileted while in the park, except that:

  • Up to four (4) filets per person may be produced for immediate cooking and consumption at designated campsites or on board vessels equipped with cooking facilities.

  • Fish may be fileted while at the designated park fish cleaning facilities, before transportation to their final destination.

  • Nets and gear that are legal to use in State waters, and fish and other edible or non-edible sea life that are legally acquired in State or Federal waters but are illegal to catch in State waters or possess in the waters of Everglades National Park may be transported through the park only over Indian Key Pass, Sand Fly Pass, Rabbit Key Pass, Chokoloskee Pass and across Chokoloskee Bay, along the most direct route to or from Everglades City, Chokoloskee Island or Fakahatchee Bay.

  • Boats traveling through these passages with such nets, gear, fish, or other edible products of the sea must remain in transit unless disabled or weather and sea conditions combine to make safe passage impossible, at which time the boats may be anchored to await assistance or better conditions.

 

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.

Everglades National Park Fish Consumption Advisories

High levels of mercury have been found in Everglades bass and in some fish species in northern Florida Bay. Do not eat bass caught north of the Main Park Road. Do not eat bass caught south of the Main Park Road more than once a week. Children and pregnant women should not eat any bass. The following salt water species caught in northern Florida Bay should not be consumed more than once per week by adults or once per month by women of child-bearing age and children: spotted seatrout, gafftopsail, catfish, bluefish, crevalle jack, or ladyfish.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.

 

Aquatic Invasive Species

Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.

Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.

For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website.

How You Can Help – Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers

Follow Clean Boating Principles!

 

Fishing Throughout The National Park Service

We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.

Last updated: May 11, 2021

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40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034

Phone:

(305) 242-7700

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